New chief for feed-from-gas company Deep Branch
Private equity MD’s appointment gives co-founder Rowe ‘a better balance’ of responsibilities
Deep Branch, which is using commercial gases to develop large-scale fermentation of single cell protein for animal and aquaculture feed, has announced the appointment of Kaspar Kristiansen as its new chief executive, taking over from co-founder Peter Rowe.
Rowe will focus on the company’s commercial development activities, working closely with Kristiansen to redefine the company’s long-term strategy and lay the foundations for growth, Deep Branch said in a press release.
The management reshuffle is combined with an injection of additional funding from existing investors.
Kristiansen joins Deep Branch following six years serving as managing partner and managing director of Waterland, where he was responsible for the global private equity firm’s Nordic business.
Challenges of scaling
Deep Branch, based in Nottingham, UK, and the Netherlands, said that having also previously headed up Danish engineering firm FLSmidth’s mergers and acquisitions and business improvement activities, Kristiansen is seasoned in dealing with the challenges of scaling and commercialising novel process technologies.
The new chief executive will oversee the completion of the company’s ongoing pilot project and prepare the organisation for future growth through the establishment of stronger internal structures, planning and processes.
Kristiansen will also have responsibility for general management, business administration and finance, while Rowe retains overall responsibility for business development, platform development, and commercialisation activities.
Deep Branch said the management changes were made in close consultation with Deep Branch’s board and existing management team, and by the company’s investors, including DSM Venturing, Barclays and Novo Holding, Fredericiagade Holding APS and Sundvæget Invest APS. They have all participated in additional financing over the last 12 months, providing capital to complete the pilot project, as well as committing to provide additional financing after the completion of the project.
Chairperson Lars Topholm said: “Over the last year, Pete and I had been discussing a potential transition that would enable him to better balance what was a very broad set of responsibilities. Upon meeting Kaspar, it was clear that his addition to the management team would bring a whole new dimension to Deep Branch, professionalising the company and preparing it for growth, whilst working with the founders to utilise their unique strengths and enable them to grow with the company.”
Kristiansen said: “The opportunity to join a game-changing start-up like Deep Branch, especially at this pivotal time for the organisation, was too good to miss. The synergies between my background and the company’s needs are clear: Deep Branch’s commercial potential is almost limitless, and I hope to be able to use my skills and executive experience to guide the company forward. I look forward to getting started and, particularly, to setting up the organisation for growth in the years ahead, maximising its positive impact.”
Deep Branch has an ambition to grow SCPs on flue gases from industrial processes but is currently focused on using commercially available 'clean' gases with the aim of producing 600,000 tonnes of protein annually by 2030.
Its Proton-branded feed ingredient is produced by growing microbes fed a combination of gases – primarily carbon dioxide (CO2) but also hydrogen and oxygen – along with an ammonia solution for nitrogen, and trace elements. It contains 65-70% protein, higher than soy or peas and around the same level as plant protein concentrates and fish meal, but with a 60% smaller carbon footprint than soy protein concentrate.
The company’s mobile pilot unit (MPU), housed in a shipping container, was previously deployed on-site with Drax Power Group in Yorkshire, where Deep Branch was involved in the REACT-FIRST project with partners including the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), feed producer BioMar, and retailer Sainsbury’s.
The MPU was later moved to the Netherlands and sited next to a commercial greenhouse tomato farm that had a piped supply of CO2 from an oil refinery and a bio-ethanol plant in the Rotterdam area. There, Deep Branch was able to prove that existing CO2 infrastructure can be used in its protein production process.